Haunted by the spot on the wall where her finisher patch should go, seventeen-year-old Sadie Scofield is determined to finish the Texas River Odyssey after giving up and then getting injured when she partnered with her dad. Because Scofields never quit, Sadie is living in a shadow of regret as she clings to the “can’t keep up” memory and allows it to erode the relationship with her father. Anyone belonging to the discourse community of river rats or competitive boaters/racers will likely be on the same wave length as those in Holly Green’s young adult novel, In the Same Boat. Talking of sweepers, log jams,Read More →

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley gets a major update with The Block by Ben Oliver. In Oliver’s second book in The Loop Trilogy targeted for young adults, readers will experience a video game vibe, like that achieved in The Matrix. Along with the characters, they will wonder what is real and what is simulated. In this new dystopian world, everybody’s happy because Happy—an artificial intelligence—rules the world.  Galen Rye is in charge, and he decides who suffers as a battery—without hopes, dreams, and ambitions as they power the world with their energy harvested from pain, fear, and anger.  He decides who should be brainwashed intoRead More →

Inspired by West African folklore, Roseanne A. Brown writes an action-packed tale infused with magical twists, family secrets, and cultural diversity.  Her debut YA novel, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin features Karina Alahari and Malik Hilali—two protagonists on a trajectory to self-discovery and potential destruction. Running and unraveling riddles are what Malik does best, although he is also prone to panic attacks, dreaming, and wandering alone.  Having been beaten as a child for discussing his hallucinations, creating illusions, and communicating with supernatural beings called the grim folk, Malik’s powers have taken more from him than they have given. Karina, on the other hand, isRead More →

Given the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the world, Katharyn Blair‘s novel Unchosen is eerily relevant. Fans of Suzanne Collins, Scott Westerfeld, Mercedes Lackey, and Brandon Sanderson will also cheer for the strong female characters and appreciate the engaging and action-packed story. In Blair’s dystopia, someone has knowingly or inadvertently unleashed the Crimson, a virus-like curse that causes the end of the world as we know it. Rather than wearing face masks, people wear blindfolds because looking into the wrong eyes is a death sentence. When infected, a person’s irises turn from their natural color to purple and then to red. That individual has only oneRead More →

Just as Sara Zapata believes in doing good, no matter the cost, her brother Emiliano believes in the need to do something good with his life. Because of their convictions, they are forced to flee from Juarez, Mexico, to escape persecution and retaliation from human traffickers. Seeking asylum, they cross the border into the United States, but an attack ensues. Afterwards, Sara finds herself in the Fort Stockton Detention Center; however, her brother has escaped with the contraband that put their lives in jeopardy in the first place: Leopoldo Hinnjosa’s phone. Hinojosa is the man responsible for the enslavement and abuse of multiple women, andRead More →

Wrenched from her childhood home in Memphis and from a father she loves, sixteen-year-old Skye Rogers has been transplanted to New York City’s Upper West Side to reside with the ultra-wealthy—the American Royalty.  Calling The Monmouth School, which she attends with her twin brother Red, her personal hell, Skye lives with her mother, Deidre Allen, whom she despises, and a detached stepfather who tolerates her. While Red makes friends effortlessly, Skye (aka Blue) struggles to make tentative connections. However, she does befriend Jenny Johnson, with whom she bonds over a mutual wrist-slitting suicide attempt.   Both girls are also ambitious, with Jenny hoping to be aRead More →

In 1943 in Wichita Falls, Texas, twelve-year-old Jerrie Cobb climbed, dipped, and banked in her father’s 1936 Waco biplane under her father’s guidance.  These were precious times for Jerrie, since flying was in her blood.  However, despite her talent and aptitude, Jerrie was denied a career as a jet pilot or an astronaut since she grew into adulthood during an era when flying was considered men’s work and society expected their women to be timid and beautiful. Because piloting a jet was physical, technical, dangerous, and dirty and because war maneuvers involved rough, rowdy, and ruthless work, women were excluded. While men scooped up theRead More →

We Unleash the Merciless Storm is Tehlor Kay Mejia’s sequel to We Set the Dark on Fire.  It picks up the story threads of Carmen Santos and Daniela Vargas, the two brides of Mateo Garcia.  In the upper class society of Medio, marriages are composed of one groom and two brides: a Segunda to nurture a man’s passions and emotions and a quick-witted and loyal Primera to nurture his logical and discerning nature. In this world, the power structure prioritizes the wealthy and leaves the rest to suffer.  Although the wealthy share a narrative about privilege and destiny, Dani knows their narrative is a lie,Read More →

Destined to be a classic survival story like Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, Be Not Far from Me by Mindy McGinnis proves that the world is not tame.  Ashley Hawkins lives near the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, “a place where geography cannot only kill [her] but also dictate [her] friends” (5). With her mama’s DNA that drove her to do everything alone and with her daddy’s inability to say he is wrong about something, Ashley has independence and stubbornness in her genes.  As a result of these traits and coupled with her explosive temper, Ashley acquires the nickname ass-kicker at summer camp.  FromRead More →